United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
consolidated cases arise out of three instances in which
Plaintiff Martin Energy Services, LLC (“Martin
Energy”) supplied fuel and water to a fleet of vessels
chartered by C.G.G. Services, U.S., Inc. (“CGG”).
In the fall of 2014, CGG was conducting seismic operations
off the coast of Louisiana with the GEO CELTIC, OCEANIC
SIRIUS, and OCEANIC VEGA (collectively, the “Seismic
Vessels”). CGG was responsible for ensuring that the
Seismic Vessels were supplied with fuel and water.
the three fuel deliveries at issue in this case, CGG
purchased fuel directly from suppliers like Martin Energy. In
October 2014, however, CGG reached its credit limit with
Martin Energy and began purchasing fuel for the Seismic
Vessels through O.W. Bunker USA Inc. (“O.W.
Bunker”). Martin Energy was selected as supplier of the
fuel because it offered the lowest sales price.
fuel was delivered to the Seismic Vessels by three supply
vessels - the M/V BOURBON PETREL, the M/V OMS RESOLUTION, and
the M/V MISS LILLY (collectively, the “Supply
Vessels”). Soon after, O.W. Bunker declared bankruptcy
and failed to pay Martin Energy for the three fuel
deliveries. Martin Energy sued each of the Supply Vessels
in rem, claiming a maritime lien for the amounts
owed for the bunkering. The vessels deny in rem
case mirrors dozens of in rem actions resulting from
the global collapse of O.W. Bunker and related bankruptcy
proceedings. It presents two issues in particular: (1)
whether CGG controlled the selection of Martin Energy as
physical supplier, and (2) whether the bunkers qualify as
necessaries for the Supply Vessels (thereby triggering in
rem liability) when they were ultimately consumed by the
Court has carefully considered the testimony of the
witnesses, the exhibits entered into evidence, the post-trial
memoranda, and the entire record, and hereby enters the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law. To the
extent that a finding of fact constitutes a conclusion of
law, the Court adopts it as such. And to the extent that a
conclusion of law constitutes a finding of fact, the Court
adopts it as such.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Martin Energy is a Houston, Texas based provider of fuels,
lubricants, and full-service logistical support along the
United States Gulf of Mexico
Services U.S., Inc. (“CGG”) is the United States
subsidiary of CGG SA, a global geoscience company that
conducts seismic operations for oil and gas companies.
fall of 2014, CGG U.S. was conducting seismic operations off
the coast of Louisiana with the survey vessels M/V GEO
CELTIC, M/V OCEANIC SIRIUS, and M/V OCEANIC VEGA
(collectively, the “Seismic Vessels”).
responsible for ensuring that the Seismic Vessels were
supplied with fuel and water. The fuel and water were
delivered from Port Fourchon, Louisiana to the Seismic
Vessels off the coast of Louisiana by three supply vessels:
the M/V BOURBON PETREL, M/V OMS RESOLUTION, and M/V MISS
LILLY (collectively, the “Supply Vessels”).
BOURBON PETREL is a Seismic Support Vessel. It was owned by
SNC Bourbon CE Petrel. The M/V OMS RESOLUTION is also a
Seismic Support Vessel that was owned by Rederij Groen BV.
The M/V MISS LILLY is an Offshore Supply Vessel that was
owned by Sea Support Ventures, LLC. All of the Supply Vessels
were chartered directly or indirectly by CGG.
to October 2014, CGG purchased fuel for the Seismic Vessels
directly from the two suppliers at Port Fourchon, Martin
Energy and Stone Oil. In October 2014, however, CGG had
reached its credit limit with Martin Energy. Martin Energy
informed CGG that CGG must either pay in advance or
“free up space” on its credit limit before Martin
Energy would sell any more fuel directly to CGG. CGG then
began purchasing fuel for the Seismic Vessels from O.W.
Bunker USA, Inc. (“O.W. Bunker”) pursuant to a
September 16, 2013 Bunker Supply Contract.
purchasing fuel from O.W. Bunker, CGG would notify O.W.
Bunker of its anticipated fuel needs and the estimated date
that the M/V BOURBON PETREL, M/V OMS RESOLUTION, and M/V MISS
LILLY would arrive in Port Fourchon to receive the fuel. O.W.
Bunker would contact Martin Energy and Stone Oil to determine
their fuel availability and the sales price, which O.W.
Bunker would then communicate to CGG. CGG instructed O.W.
Bunker to purchase fuel from the supplier with the lower
cost, Martin Energy.
each of the transactions at issue here, a. CGG issued
purchase orders to O.W. Bunker for the fuel to ...